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  Sierra Magazine
  July/August 2005
Table of Contents
Inventing Tomorrow
Can Technology Save the Planet?
Earth's Innovators
The Perfect Fix
Encore in Yosemite
The Common Good
Interview: Dan Chiras and Dave Wann
Let's Talk
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Lay of the Land
Hearth & Home
Hey Mr. Green
Good Going
The Sierra Club Bulletin
Sierra Archives
About Sierra
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The Sierra Club Bulletin

The Club Comes Together | Our New Directors |
Save Clair Tappaan | Help Us Investigate |
Hobnob With Our Heroes | Setting Our Course

The Club Comes Together
by Jennifer Hattam

Illustration by Lloyd Dangle Throughout the year, San Francisco's Moscone Center bustles with conventioneers — auto enthusiasts, Mac addicts, doctors, dentists, and businesspeople of all stripes. But come September, the nature lovers are taking over. The Sierra Club's Ūrst-ever large-scale national convention, Sierra Summit 2005, will fill the center with some 6,000 visitors, 150 exhibitors, and green ideas galore. Two years in the making, the event will bring together Club activists from all over the country and interested members of the general public for education, inspiration, outdoor fun, and serious business.

During the four-day Summit, attendees can listen to speakers like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Arianna Huffington, and Bill Maher and participate in a wide variety of hands-on workshops and panel discussions; explore an exhibit hall chock-full of outdoor and green products, innovations, and services (including a booth where they can gab with Sierra staff); share stories and celebrate victories with other activists at the "Sierra Showcase," a section of the exhibit hall with displays featuring the Club's most successful grassroots programs; and enjoy the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area on group outings, hikes, and tours.

A thousand Summit delegates, representing every chapter, group, and national committee, will meet throughout the weekend to discuss the Club's work and help set new priorities and direction for the next five years and beyond. "This is a historic moment for the Sierra Club and the environmental movement," says outgoing Club president Larry Fahn. "By coming together at the Summit, we'll create the energy and vision that will mobilize thousands of new activists to help protect the planet."

ON THE WEB To register or find out more, visit

Our New Directors

Illustration by Debbie DrechslerIn April, Sierra Club members chose four current or former directors to return for another term on the 15-member board of directors. They also elected one new representative. The winners of this year's election are:

  • Joni Bosh, a former Club director and an educator from Phoenix (89,549 votes)
  • Jennifer Ferenstein, a former Club president and a grassroots organizer from Missoula, Montana (87,151 votes)
  • Jim Dougherty, a former Club director and an environmental lawyer from Washington, D.C. (86,377 votes)
  • Jim Catlin, a current Club director and a Wild Utah Project scientist from Salt Lake City (82,459 votes)
  • Barbara Frank, an environmental activist and a former teacher from La Crosse, Wisconsin (68,878 votes)

By a 5-to-1 margin, voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have required the Club to support immigration restrictions. Members also voted to eliminate write-in candidates and to require a year of continuous Club membership for candidates in future elections.

MORE INFORMATION To recommend a nominee for next year's election, contact David Wells. To learn more about the board of directors, visit

Save Clair Tappaan

Since it was built by Sierra Club volunteers in the 1930s, Clair Tappaan Lodge has provided an affordable retreat near Lake Tahoe for members and visitors alike. Named after an early outings leader, the hostel-like lodge is a perfect base for skiers and hikers.

Red ink may force the Club to sell this piece of its heritage unless supporters can increase occupancy and raise $100,000 by September 30. You can enjoy the beautiful summer and fall weather — and activities ranging from fly-fishing to tai chi — while helping the cause. Call (800) 679-6775 to book a trip to the lodge. To make a contribution, write a check to the Sierra Club Foundation and send it to Save CTL, c/o Mary Bernstein, 1212 Byron St., Palo Alto, CA 94301; or donate by credit card at

Help Us Investigate

These days hard-hitting stories on environmental issues are few and far between. Instead, punditry and he-said, she-said reporting dominate the news. It's understandable — digging deeply enough to produce an effective investigative story takes a lot of time, experience, and money. Most big media conglomerates just aren't interested.

Sierra sees environmental news as essential to a well-functioning civil society. That's why we've published articles like "Dangerous Liaisons" (May/June) — and why we're launching the Sierra Investigative Journalism Project, which is dedicated to producing more high-quality, high-impact articles with the power to create real environmental change. To find out how you can support the project, write to

Hobnob With Our Heroes

Eco-luminaries at the Sierra Summit include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Alice Waters, Robert Hass, Bill Maher, George Lakoff, and Arianna Huffington.

Like the movie industry, the fashion world, and the sports scene, the environmental community has its own A-list celebrities. And the Sierra Club has snagged many of them to participate in its Summit. Keynote speakers Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Arianna Huffington — both contributors to Sierra — will bring passion and political savvy to their afternoon talks on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Kennedy, the president of Waterkeeper Alliance and a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, was named a "Hero for the Planet" by Time. Huffington, a political commentator and satirist, regularly skewers environmental no-gooders in her syndicated column; she also cofounded Americans for Fuel EfŪcient Cars, best known for its edgy television ads linking gas- guzzling SUVs to national security.

Comedian Bill Maher, who will entertain and provoke attendees at an evening reception on Saturday, shares HufŪngton's dim view of SUVs. (His book When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden pokes fun at, among other things, "SelŪsh Use Vehicle" drivers who adorn their bumpers with American ßags.) Maher is the host of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher and creator of the cutting-edge former Comedy Central show Politically Incorrect. Other "master speakers" include Ūlmmaker Ric Burns, poet Robert Hass, linguist George Lakoff, designer William McDonough, and chef Alice Waters, who have all been featured in Sierra — and inßuenced the way environmentalists around the nation think, shop, and converse.

Other experts will lead workshops throughout the weekend. While art lovers can learn how to capture nature's glory in various mediums, adventurers can hear from top women climbers and get tips on vacations that make a difference. Conscientious consumers can consider healthy household choices, while policy wonks can discuss renewable energy, fair trade, and strategic organizing. With more than 60 workshops planned, there's bound to be something for everyone. — J.H.

Setting Our Course

Illustration by Lloyd DangleIf two heads are better than one, imagine what good ideas a thousand can come up with. That's the theory behind one of the most important parts of the Summit: bringing together delegates from all over the country (and every facet of the organization) to envision the future of the Sierra Club.

"It's a tremendous opportunity to have all those volunteers and activists share their wisdom and experience," says board director Greg Casini, one of the Summit co-chairs. "They'll help decide how we focus our energies and resources to achieve our goals."

Before the Summit, local activists will meet to talk about the political landscape and the Club's approach to conservation. The delegates — drawn from every group and chapter, as well as national committees, boards, and other Club entities — will expand on those conversations at the Summit, where they'll discuss what strategies and priorities the Club should emphasize over the next five years.

This open, democratic process will provide a fresh look at how the Sierra Club can mobilize its members, engage its communities, and galvanize America. "The environmental movement needs direction," says Club president and Summit co-chair Lisa Renstrom. "The Sierra Club will provide it by creating a genuinely shared vision." — J.H.

Just the Facts

WHEN: September 8-11

WHERE: Moscone Center (North Hall), San Francisco

SPEAKERS: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Arianna Huffington, Bill Maher, William McDonough, Robert Hass, Alice Waters, George Lakoff, Ric Burns, and many others.

WORKSHOPS/PANELS: Get inspired and motivated by attending sessions scheduled throughout the weekend under seven broad themes: Environmental Expression Through Art, Living Well, Natural Heritage, Outdoor Adventure, Working Smart, Visionary Solutions, and Youth.

EXHIBIT HALL: Peruse 150 booths representing green and outdoor businesses and organizations; special displays may include a cooking stage, a climbing wall, a mock "Leave No Trace" campsite and interpretive trail, "green" dollhouses designed by the American Institute of Architects, and hybrid, electric, and fuel-cell cars. Admission to the exhibit hall is $15 per person — $10 if you ride a bike (free bicycle valet parking included).

SIERRA SHOWCASE: Come to the "Showcase" area of the exhibit hall to learn what other Club activists are doing; participants will share their stories in person at "meet the presenters" sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

OUTINGS: Enjoy dayhikes in Golden Gate Park, give back to nature on trail-restoration service trips, and root for the home team at a San Francisco Giants baseball game — all accessible by public transit.

COST: Full conference and one-day passes are available at tiered prices, ranging from $75 to $435, for delegates, students, leaders, members, and nonmembers.

GET INVOLVED: To register, visit or call (301) 694-5243.

Illustrations: Lloyd Dangle, Debbie Drechsler

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